The Aegean Sea is an elongated bay of the Mediterranean Sea located between the mainland of Greece and Turkey. It covers about 214,000 square kilometers (83,000 square miles) in area. East of Crete the sea reaches its maximum depth of 3,543 meters (11,624 feet). Greece has a long history dating back at least to the 8th century B.C. Many consider it the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. Greece was the first area in Europe where advanced early civilizations emerged.
Asia Minor, from the period of the Neolithic age, was utilized as a route by those in the Near East who sought a new home by traveling west. Their travels furthered the spread, in the 5th century B.C., of agriculture to the island of Crete, the east coast of Greece and ultimately to the entirety of Europe. The kingdom of Lydia, during the 6th century B.C., expanded to the Aegean Sea coast and almost to the entirety of Asia Minor before it was taken over by the mighty Persian Empire.
After the Greek-Persian wars ended, the cities on the Aegean Sea coast aligned themselves with the Athens dominated Delian League. This league, however, lasted less than a century. The conqueror Alexander the Great, in the 4th century, took over the Asia Minor peninsula after soundly beating the Persians. After his death, Asia Minor was ruled by several Hellenistic kingdoms. The area came to be dominated by the Roman Empire two hundred years later.
The Sea and the Gospel
The region in the above map is where Apostle Paul spent a great deal of time spreading the gospel and where he arguably achieved his greatest missionary successes.
During his second missionary journey (49 to 52 A.D.), the Apostle Paul evangelized in the Aegean region the cities of Troas, Neapolis, Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Cenchrea and Ephesus. The church in Philippi was the first European church founded by Paul. His third journey (53 to 58 A.D.) had him visiting and (usually) preaching in Ephesus, Troas, Neapolis, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Corinth, Assos, Mitylene, Trogyllium, Miletus, and Patara. During his fourth missionary journey (60 to 63 A.D.), he landed on the island of Crete (Fair Havens) on his way to Rome to stand trial.
The Aegean Sea is also the place where the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. He was exiled by Roman Emperor Domitian to the island of Patmos in 95 A.D. "because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:9). He penned this final section of Scripture after receiving several visions that were meant to shown things that will soon come to pass (Revelation 1:1).